Redbridge SERC

Friedreich’s Ataxia


Friedreich's ataxia is the most common type of hereditary ataxia (caused by genes you've inherited).

It's thought to affect at least 1 in every 50,000 people.

Signs and symptoms of Friedreich's ataxia can include:

  • problems with balance and co-ordination, often causing wobbliness, clumsiness and frequent falls 
  • increasingly slurred, slow and unclear speech
  • increasing weakness in the legs – many people find walking difficult and need to use a wheelchair after around 10 to 20 years
  • difficulty swallowing 
  • abnormal curvature of the spine (scoliosis)
  • total or partial vision loss and hearing loss 
  • diabetes
  • thickening of the heart muscles (cardiomyopathy), which can cause chest pain, breathlessness and an irregular heartbeat
  • loss of sensation in the hands and feet

The symptoms of Friedreich's ataxia usually get gradually worse over many years.

People with the condition tend to have a shorter life expectancy than normal.

Many people live until at least their 30s, and some can live into their 60s or beyond.

Fact sheets

Training / Help

SEaTSS can support students with this condition.

To refer to SEATSS please use this link:

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